The Shawn Abreu Treasury: Constantinus the Liberator

Constantinus the Liberator

It's been a while since we've had a good ol'character entry here on RM. Shawn Abreu has delivered with a series of unit entries I found in my inbox. Now I have the pleasure of sharing and reviewing these entries for our readers. 

Today we're looking Constantinus the Liberator, a renegade Sergeant formerly of the Sons of Guilleman. Disgusted with the state of the Imperium he turns the world of Nova Terra against the Imperium declaring himself the rightful ruler and liberator of the sector.

Mr. Abreu tells an interesting story in this entry - an iconic clash between basic human morals and the tired dogmas of  the corpulent Imperium. The narrative is a little confusing as the catalyst behind Constantinus' treachery is not altogether evident. The story shifts very quickly from the purging of the xenos threat to a restless populace to the ascension of a powerful warlord - essentially three novels worth of "fluff" in three paragraphs.

Rules-wise Constantinus can be described as the much needed Chaos Space Marine buffer character. His Space Marine Captain stats lend the aging codex a more modern combat prowess in the HQ slot. A subtle bonus is that Constantinus carries both a powerfist and a power sword allowing him to make the best of his high initiative whilst also giving him the opportunity to deliver Instant Death blows to other marine characters. 

The only original rule in the entry is the 'Tactical Mastery' special rule and it is a big one! 

"He may elect to have one of the following unit types to be chosen as a troops choice: Chosen Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Terminators, Possessed Chaos Marines, Chaos Bikers, Raptors, Chaos Havocs, or Obliterators."

Hmmm... Well the intention is clear: give Chaos players the flexibility and choices found in newer codices. Mr. Abreu wants the Chaos Space Marine codex to become a playground for Chaos players to forge armies as they see fit. But there is no limitation at all to this process - the entire codex is simply let loose in the troops section which already features 2 or 3 strong troops choices. Any one of the above units being moved to the troops section would have been a breath of fresh air for Chaos players but this is more like a whirlwind. 

At 160 points I don't feel Constantinus creates any opportunity cost for Chaos players. He is infinitely better than any other choice (though that's not a great accomplishment) and will give Chaos players more powerful lists when in fact the power level of the codex was never an issue. Quad-melta Havoc squads and Nurgle Bikers are even more obnoxious when made scoring. 

Still the Chaos Space Marine codex is in dire need of new options and perhaps this is the best way. I might have created a special character for each of the units allowing only one unit to be a troop choice per character but the result would be largely the same albeit more "colorful."

I have blogged before that the FOC mechanic is a poorly contrived one; That it draws completely arbitrary lines across unit entries forcing players away from themed lists. Mr. Abreu appears to agree with me. Just a year earlier I might have dismissed an entry such as this one as wishful, overpowered thinking. Since the BT/DA update, however, the status quo has changed. With the more efficient unit in the game (TH/SS Termies with CML) becoming a Troops choice there is little to suggest Constantinus the Liberator cannot become an equally refreshing addition to the game.

- Atrotos


Ufllbcan Bryss said…
So we can still do the odd ad-hoc as long as we also write about the design process? Works well for me.

Havocs as Troops essentially is an upgrade to the standard CSM squad to create the equivalent of IG Veterans, and I don't have good feelings about that. Nurgle Bikers and Obliterators fall into the same camp, that of 'wow, that's pretty hard,' but that may or may not be offset by the low model count that produces, which means on average more shots coming in at each unit. Both still die to S8 too, so they may not be as much of an issue, especially at the usual value of the American game, or against Long Fangs.

I love the concept, my main gripe though is 'Captain Sicarius Syndrome,' where you get a character for the buff and then have no clue what to do with him. Where would he slot in in an army?
Shawn Abreu said…
Constantinus is a capable warrior in close combat. When designing this character, I was keen on keeping his background a focal point to his rules design. As a former Sons of Guilleman space marine (a chapter descendant of the Ultramarines and equally studied in the Codex Astartes), he represents a surprisingly missing element to the Chaos Space Marines codex: strategic choice. Starting at the very pivotal beginning at army selection, his "Tactical Mastery" special rule allows to the player to form a unique spearhead unlike any other, non-apocalypse Chaos Space Marine army. 

This design philosophy extends to the individual model itself. In close combat the player must decide to utilize his power fist to deliver a few devastating strength 8 hits capable of inflicting instant death (at the penalty of striking last), or a flurry of armor piercing hits from his power sword. As a highly charismatic chaos lord (from moving words to displays of wanton destruction), Constantinus serves as a living icon of Chaos Glory - allowing him to bolster the morale of any unit he joins. 

While he may to some extent suffer from "Captain Sicarius Syndrome" in the aspect that no singular unit screams for his addition, his close-combat prowess and morale boosting ability makes him an ideal leader to many non-fearless squads or simply to add a much needed punch and close combat versatility to lacking squads. Overall I enjoyed this particular character and I am quite happy to see some rather well written responses. 
Master_Bryss said…
(I forgot I had this one.) This makes sense, and it's good to hear your thoughts as well. I suppose it's not like any Chaos unit is terrible in combat either, so he'd fit quite well into basic units as well as advanced ones, whereas Sicarius isn't great at fighting but is more a survival guy, which is weird.
shawn.abreu said…
Sicarius is quite a puzzle. His ability to survive would be great - if he could be a scoring unit and not just contest objectives.
Off topic: How do you log into your account to respond? For some reason I'm having difficulty actually getting my blogger account to log in under the right account.
Ahrimaneus said…
Nice analysis Atrotos.  I like the character a lot, however, as you said, I'd like to see different characters unlock different units either as Troops or simply as scoring.  As Bryss pointed, out, Chaos quad-melta squads from the Havocs all over the board is pretty rough as a troops choice.  If only made scoring, you still have to deal with the fact that you'll have little long ranged shooting from sacrificing your Heavy Support slots for them.  Perhaps he just may choose to make either Havocs, Bikes, or Chosen scoring?  Seems like things like Obliterators, Raptors, and Possessed are colorful and unique enough to warrant their own unique unlock-character.  I feel like that change would allow Constantinus to be both effective/unique while maintaining his fluff representation and without creating a Coteaz-like monster of melta possibilities.

Could you imagine 5 or 6 5-man Havoc squads with 4x Meltaguns supported by Daemon Princes and Obliterators?  Good lord!
sabreu said…
I can see a good fluff reason to remove Raptors, Obliterators, and Possessed from his list of commendable forces. Each are individual cults (or possibly insane, in regards to possessed) and have ulterior motives. Limiting Constantinus to the "normal" chaos space marine options might suit better: Chosen, Havocs, Bikes, and Terminators. Without those three his "Tactical Mastery" special rule still has a profound effect on the army build and creates enough new variety to warrant his existence and value.
That last bit, I can see, and it scares me deeply.